Tough call but Wags may miss

Lockie Ferguson proved his red-ball credentials with a brutal spell for Auckland against...
Lockie Ferguson proved his red-ball credentials with a brutal spell for Auckland against Wellington in the Plunket Shield. Photo: Getty Images
Black Caps fast bowler Lockie Ferguson is poised to make his test debut. But who, if anyone, will make room for the 28-year-old. Cricket writer Adrian Seconi takes a look at the options before the opening test against England next week.

Tim Southee

If you have even skimmed our sports pages throughout the years then you might have guessed Southee would make his way to the top of our list and he has. But his pedestrian performance in one-dayers in recent years is not to be confused with his value as a rather more potent test performer. Southee has such a tremendous partnership with Trent Boult at the top of the innings, it would be a big call to leave him on the sideline. He is a quality new-ball bowler and his ability to bend the ball is invaluable. But on those occasions when the Black Caps have played two spinners and then needed to drop a seamer, it has often been Southee who has missed out. But he played ahead of Neil Wagner in Sri Lanka and bowled really well.

Neil Wagner

How can you leave Wags out? The guy runs in hard over after over. He is not express but he arguably has the most accurate bouncer in world cricket. It always seems to skid through at about the level of your armpit and he has had wonderful success with the delivery. You would think by now people would have figured out a way to combat it but no - no, they haven't. And if Wagner sits the game out then who will shoulder his enormous workload? He is in good form, too. He is the leading wicket-taker in the Plunket Shield with 17 wickets at an average of 24.11.

Lockie Ferguson

There is a fair chance the rapid right-armer will have to watch the action from the sideline. But surely upper management will want to see what the speedster is capable of before the tour to Australia. Ferguson was easily the best of the New Zealand seamers at the World Cup. He picked up 21 wickets at an average of 19.47 and an economy rate of 4.88. And he has been the best bowler on the domestic circuit for several seasons. He has a brutal bouncer, a deadly yorker and he gets the ball through at 150kmh.

Colin de Grandhomme

The all-rounder is unlikely to have to make way for anyone. He can turn a game in a session with bat and he is an underrated bowler who can take the new ball, if needed, and also play a holding role. He is industrial-strength medium pace but he wobbles the ball about and he has picked up 35 wickets in 18 tests.

Trent Boult

Won't happen. He plays.

Matt Henry

Poor old Henry. He may have played much more during any other period but is probably ranked fifth-best and is unlikely to add to his 10 tests soon.

Mitchell Santner or Todd Astle

The selectors have left out arguably the country's two best spinners in Ajaz Patel and Will Somerville. Santner and Astle offer more with the bat and perhaps that was behind the thinking. At a pinch they could play as an all-rounder, which would free up a spot for Ferguson and pave the way for a four-pronged pace attack. That would be rough on de Grandhomme. The other option is not to play a spinner. But that seems unlikely, given the tweakers teamed up to take seven wickets in the most recent first-class innings played at the venue.

Conclusion

Sorry, Wags.

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